Day trains between Germany and Switzerland: IC, EC and ICE
There are many trains connecting Germany to Switzerland. The trains are comfortable and definitely recommended over flights. Examples of connections and traveling times:
- Berlin to Basel at the Swiss border takes 7h00 to 7h30.
- Köln (Cologne) to Basel takes 4 hours.
- München (Munich) to Zürich takes 3h35 via direct connection, or 4h00 to 4h30 with one or more changes of trains.
- Frankfurt to Basel takes less than 3 hours.
Several train types are available:
- Intercity (IC) trains, mainly within Germany;
- Eurocity (EC) trains between Germany and bordering countries;
- Intercity Express (ICE) trains between Germany and bordering countries. These high-speed trains offer on-board catering, power sockets at your seat, quiet zones and free Wifi. Also, you can connect to the "ICE Portal" to enjoy movies and TV series for free.
Seat reservations are often not obligatory, but we do recommend them for longer journeys in Germany.
Night trains between Germany and Switzerland: Nightjet
Nightjet trains are available between Germany and Switzerland. They have the label 'NJ' in the Swiss timetable. There are various connections between German cities (including Berlin, Hamburg, Hannover and Frankfurt) and Zurich and Basel in Switzerland.
There's also a direct connection from and to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
You can choose between sleeping cars, couchette cars and seater cars.
How to get the cheapest tickets
- Prices may vary by the date and time of traveling. It helps if your travel date and time are flexible. You can book up to 6 months before traveling. Please find prices here.
- Check if there are promotions.
- If you have a Swiss rail pass, you only need a ticket to the Swiss border. Usually that's Basel Bad Bf (or Basel SBB) or Schaffhausen. For example: with a Swiss Travel Pass, you do not need a full ticket all the way from Berlin to Zürich, because the leg from Basel to Zürich is covered by the pass. A ticket to Basel is sufficient.
- Instead of a ticket to the Swiss border station, you can also book a ticket for a "passholder fare". That's a ticket for the entire route for people who own a rail pass for Switzerland or Germany. The ticket is cheaper than a regular ticket because the leg covered by the rail pass is free. An advantage of this fare is that it includes a seat reservation for the entire route, not just to the border. Passholder fares are not always available, nor needed: seat reservations are usually not required within Switzerland. If they're unavailable, you simply book to the border.
- If you have a rail pass that covers both Germany and Switzerland, you don't need a ticket at all. You just need a seat reservation.
Find ticket prices and points of sale.
Is something not clear yet? Just post your questions to the Swiss rail forum and get a quick answer.